This gallery contains 16 photos.
a very peaceful rural walk through pretty agricultural landscapes with granite outcrops and views across bush slopes to The Paps and Mt Buller Continue reading
You know where I’m going with this
To the place of rant and rave of whinge from a cave
To the normed deformed and ill informed
Who drive nonsensical stuff social media guff
Of bluff and bravado of truth innuendo
Where everyone is offended and all’s fully rendered
You know where I’m going with this
To the place of the dancing where real men are prancing or mincing or wincing in deepening self doubt as they squirm and they shout to no one with ears for their crying into beers because the dears are the girls in their whirls and tossed curls they chop spikes and go dykes on the bikes of their brothers the others whose macho is smothered by the rise of their eyes
They pant to the beat chasing fresh meat party til they drop ecstasy or sop they outdo each other get done over recover blame and shift blame self blame without shame it’s such a shame when the game that they are in has no purpose it’s a sim they’re in but they don’t know it or if they do don’t show it cos the deal is the real is uncool as it heats and the threats as it heats mean the gets can’t be beat so they retreat to their sweet petting havens as the lascivious and craven always do
You know where I’m going with this
To the crush of high density that rates with propensity for legislature longevity and population growth my oath you and me both with the millions that come to the bustle and hum to the high tensile strum of the energy guns at our heads pay the bills or family fed? that is the question we dread as executive bonuses build mansions and poseurs as the export of gas ups the home price real fast and don’t talk to me about electricity duplicity so mean to me these corporate utilities fat cats and multinats squeeze me til I’m dry then have another try so my life is a scythe cut the stress with a knife kiss good bye to the wife and the kids and the love that I loved for loves sake it’s a home bake
You know where I’m going with this
To Parliament House the joint of no nouse of no brain of no gain where celebrity reigns were the state of the nation equates with fashion our political ration gets smaller and smaller as narcissism self interest and recidivism ism their way to the fore we want more or they want more no yore just more for the future is now a cash cow to be milked at the fence of public expense as the full and the fat suck at the teat for the treat of squeezed taxpayers sweet forming rivers of milk and honey or is it money pouring forth from a new scam that’s rude derived from ineptitude it may be batts it may be courses they may be entrepreneurs but they’re on the horses bolted after the gates have closed
You know where I’m going with this
To the foreign affairs where the hand shakes and stares look like one thing and mean another to every sister and brother to the lands of the sun where who flung dung sticks and islands they build with a military guild in navigation zones where none knows the homes such that possession is nine tenths of the law it’s a bore as new shores rise from the sea we cringe and we pee like the US to Putin when he’s Ukraine a rootin and his snatch what a catch of a patch on the fabric of history Crimea cry for thee the Russia of yore cry for the poor for perverse plans of those who want more. Or should I say piss-Tory and so they go on to challenge the status quo where we say we’ll go, but ho ho ho Australia knows we’re a no show all hot air and blow no blast from the past just cower against shower of the weak with raw power of the ability to buy off the try hards and show offs extend influence of policy overseas despite probity without give but with the motility of far distant polity the bread baskets for Asia droned by Asia owned by Asia sown by Asia cloned by Asia grown by Asia mown by Asia swallowed and honed by Asia and backed by the USA
You know where I’m going with this
To the US beholden superpower olden folding the flag turning for home in the gloaming of their watch withdrawing notch by notch uncertain where the crotch of the matter lies or whether their power even applies, exerting pressure as trade plies but not so sure regarding human rights and the rise of the stateless states the unreliable mates the dates that became rapes where the bright promising Spring quickly wings to a cold dark winter on the sling of David and the Saudi flings and the belated failings where democracy no longer sings.
You know where I’m going with this
Away from paradise lost from the costs from the Fausts from the oppressive hosts from the submerging coasts to the ghost of the past rewritten to last where my heart harks for hope in the sparks of principles sublime not bereft but to the time I have left in the cleft between life and death in hope of nurture in the sweet natural wealth of transparency before stealth
You know where I’m going with this
Here’s an ode to palinode
Where I’ll retract what I once showed
From a once subversive code
I recant to get what I am owed
As I take this pragmatic road
Giving up all I have sowed
I sacrifice my truth and bode
Farewell such sweet and precious load
My enemies I’ll no longer goad
Diary of a Retiree: Day 294
An interesting day not so long ago, a problematic day, a day spent in Shepparton. In response to a letter from Subaru Australia, urgently urging replacement of our Subaru Forrester’s high risk air bag, I booked the car in for this to be done. A service and attention to a couple of other issues were due as well. I was advised all could be taken care of if they had the car for the day. I got up at 6am to have the car there around 8am.
To follow, 8+ hours in Shepparton without a car looked like a bit of a challenge. I planned to walk most of the day: to the river for half a day of birdwatching, back to town for lunch, to the gallery, around the CBD, to the museum, to the library and back to Subaru on the outskirts of town.
On arrival at Subaru Shepparton, the first item on my list went awry. I was told that in fact, they didn’t have any replacement air bags. Yes, really! I guess it all seems quite simple to them. I just take a day out to go there again when it suits them. My needs, as the customer, appeared to be largely irrelevant to the process. I expressed my disappointment. I stated that if I been told this when I booked in I would not have come until there were replacement air bags available.
I have since had an apology from Shepparton Subaru. It was explained to me that Subaru Australia and the dealerships are out of synch on this process. I was reassured the Forrester’s air bag had previously been replaced with a like model that would not have time to dangerously deteriorate before they contacted me to say they had a permanent replacement. Despite this reassurance, I am still finding the sequence of events hard to understand. I am also unclear how I could be told the air bag replacement could be done in the first place if they did not actually have any in stock.
I find this sort of attitude toward customers increasingly prevalent. It seems to be becoming the status quo for corporate customer (non) service delivery. Customers are expected to pay for the pleasure of servicing the vendor with their business. The transaction then occurs at the convenience of the vendor. Or, even worse, customers are expected to complete unpaid work for the vendor before the vendor will consider doing business with them at all. For example, not so long ago I had to do all the work to prove to Telstra that it was possible for them to provide an internet connection.
There wasn’t any point in going home. Some work could be done. I left the car. I headed toward the river. It took nearly an hour from the Subaru dealer’s address. It was not exactly a pleasant walk. The dominant features of Shepparton’s entry roadside built environments are the garish, tilt up concrete facades of every ubiquitous franchise found on every arterial approach to every modest and bigger metropolis and suburb in the country. The worst form of urban homogeneity. Also, there was serious noise. The traffic in Shepparton is surprisingly heavy. Between the many traffic lights, trucks alternately growled down the gears toward braking or puffed clouds of diesel fumes into the air as they pushed their way back up to speed. Cars ducked and weaved amongst them. This happened all the way, smack through the centre of town!
As I approached the CBD, many places of business were empty. The tell tales of long term dormancy were myriad. Dust sat heavily on the floors inside. Last autumn’s leaves remained piled into corners and sparsely littered wide empty spaces once filled with display cases, goods for sale and cashier desks. Piles of unopened letters and bills clogged letterboxes or doorway slots and layered themselves untidily on the floors immediately inside each entrance. Shabby, yellowing reminders of an inability to pay, and most likely, an inability to extract payment by such routine means. Grimy windows contrasted with a series of vividly desperate “For Lease” signs stuck to the glass. A few stores even looked like the owners just had enough, went past coping, upped and walked out one day, never to return. Their left-over stock mouldering in grubby backgrounds, awaiting rediscovery by the next occupants. Ancient artefacts of a dim, dark past. That is of course, if there are any next occupants.
I speculated and I felt a touch of sadness for the travails of failed small businesses. The early optimism, the sobering doubts, the dawning of harsh realities, the stress, the final decision to quit, the diversity of costs. I wondered, “Where they are now?” I walked on.
I had water, food, camera in hand, time to kill ….. and the anticipatory hope of discovery. A natural bush environment, rich in river red gums, acacias and native grasses. A majestic river, sliding along lazily between deep, foliage rich embankments. A beautifully clear mid-winter day of warm sunlight and blue skies. A great day for walking.
What did I find? Well, not much really. There were the usual suspects, the wood ducks, the galahs, the wattle birds and a few wrens, but the river wasn’t exactly teeming with the birdlife I expected. In fact, the opposite was true. As I wandered back into town after some 4 hours of walking, I asked myself, “There was food, there was water, there was a seemingly healthy natural environment but, where were all the birds?”
This worried me. It reminded me of the same disturbing feeling I had in Europe a few years ago. I was excited about the prospect of seeing new species, but I didn’t know the bird population there had begun to collapse. We saw precious few birds. The idea that this may be happening here is terrifying. However, more and more, tarmac, buildings, broad acre mega farms (monoculture deserts) and use of food chain destroying pesticides are more the norm than not here these days as well. It would be naïve to think we will escape similar consequences.
As for the other activities for the day, well, I had myself some passable vegetarian fried rice for lunch. The gallery was quite interesting, but I found myself surprised by how small it was. Consequently, it didn’t take too long travel through. There were some expressive works of felted text and symbolic messages by Raquel Ormella in the featured exhibition “I hope you get this”. I did Raquel, artistic, challenging and interesting.
Some of the aboriginal pieces took my fancy as well. There was one of particular interest depicting the Murray as a joyful hunting and play ground and then the future impacts as the water sport loving crowd crashed the party.
I walked the commercial districts, but was unable to unearth many redeeming features. What looked like the original CBD is now economically dominated by the usual monster supermarket / Kmart (or was it Target?) flatland complex down the road. Surrounding a large flatland central car park, these brazen intruders are well beyond consolidating a commercial beachhead. It felt more like an internal island state!
I walked the residential surrounds. Sure, there were some nice looking historic, come stately homes. However, somewhere back in time the Shepparton municipal guardians made the same mistake so many of their kind have, they let the developers have their say and their way. Consequently, neighbourhood character of a sort that might be appreciated during the pleasure of a long exploratory walk in a country town, was not to be found.
I took a restful break for a half hour or so in the well trafficked library, reading from the well-stocked magazine rack, before heading back to where it all started – the peripherally located Shepparton Subaru. To avoid the noise of the main roads, I mapped a route of minor roads. It was quieter, but otherwise seriously uninspiring. I found myself amongst a mix of untidy or plain houses with bland gardens that gave way to untidy light industry. The people occupying these spaces appeared to think glycophopsphate was the best gardening invention of all time. Already parched landscapes had been further denuded of growth both inside fences and along “nature strips”. You could clearly see the withered remnants of plants and residualspray dyes along the way. This sad observation did not improve my impression of the place at all!
This was my day in Shepparton. The day I didn’t get an air bag replacement
With Winter’s reign
Comes winter rain …..
Heavy, Kamikaze, straight into the ground
A relentless, driving, ominous sound
Drumming incessantly on iron clad roof
Beating out rhythms of Winter’s truth
Pummeling every deciduous bough
Weighing branches to a seasonal low
Forcing autumn leaves to their final leap
Reminding trees it is time to sleep
I came across this poem my son, Hagan, wrote some time ago. It is about overnight stays at his grandparent’s place in rural Victoria. It is quite lovely.
at night cars on the highway whisper distance
we are so far from anything
a collection of warm souls
glowing like an ember of the burnt out day
the cars breathe wordless thoughts
the sound of loneliness
is the sound of something passing
but we stay
grandma and grandpa asleep in the one room I have never explored
young famililes in the back room
single males or older siblings alongside
in a lounge room sealed with folding doors
every move a quiet one
from quiet good night to good morning
breakfast a thief’s meal
the day’s plans discussed in conspirator’s tones
the house so still
the closing of cupboards in the kitchen a rough sigh
the carpet in the hall soft and relaxed
becoming cool kitchen lino underfoot
and here’s Ruth, any Ruth
whispering hello with a laugh
as if she’s either not used to whispering
or she’s sorry for waking me
while Nutri-Grain sing their deliciousness into the bowl
the first in a day of pleasures rare and reliable
reminders of things I have always known
that I will belong somewhere, that I am happy
happy now, in a house warm and never stifling
allowing the comfortable movement
of elements between its walls:
air and light, peace and love, enough for all
“We brought her ashes here.”
Someone could have said this
That someone could not have been me
Because I wasn’t there
Not in mind, not in spirit, not in body
I was absent on every level
In fact, I think I went to school
Did I really go to school?
For want of something better to do
That must have been weird for the teachers
Their dead colleague’s son returns to school
Instead of attending their dead colleague’s funeral
I wonder if it hurt? (Me? Them?)
I didn’t wonder at the time
I just didn’t want to go
Didn’t want to know
I saw the dead when death was done
No need to attend a funeral rerun
Clear and simple
That was the way I saw it
“We brought her ashes here because …..”
I can tell you I have no idea why
I wasn’t there I tell you
I wasn’t involved
Not in the slightest
Not for the sightfest
I guess it was because standards were everything
I guess it was convenience if anything
“We took her ashes elsewhere”
It would have made more sense don’t you think?
Well, with hindsight anyway
I wonder now where that elsewhere might have been?
I imagine there was a place somewhere distant to the mass ash repository
Somewhere that had more meaning?
I wonder where that place might have been?
It bothers me that I have no idea about this
Instead of being encapsulated
Did she think about where her ashes might be cast?
She had time
So much time for dying
Was there time for thinking about this as well?
Thinking about the special places
The places that meant something
The places where her ashen cloud
Could manifest as transient shroud
One last act of giving
One finale to living
“Here lie her ashes”
I still don’t know where
I still don’t want to know
I haven’t been there
Don’t want to be shown
Wherever there is
And I won’t go
Because there is a neutral and meaningless place
At least, I don’t know what it means
Elsewhere might have been easier
Somewhere I could understand
Where she could still lend a hand
A place for her to show
Somewhere I might want to go
EMI Records 1981 Vinyl
The cover outside:
Six very clean cut young men grace the gatefold black and white cover. They are generously spread across front and rear panels. The nice thing about this is you have to open the cover fully to appreciate the photograph. It is a grand image, on a truly large scale, in a way only an LP cover can deliver. They look so comfortable with each other. A relaxed confidence and bonhomie smiles out from the sleeve. They are a pretty handsome looking crew as well. Only front man James Reyne stands apart, challenging the cameraman with a look of veiled menace. Somebody in this band has to represent the rock ethos.
The cover inside:
Black and white once again features across the interior. Six portraits from the same shoot as the front hang across the centre top of the display, only this time it is Simon Binks doing the meaningful look into the camera. The potrait shots are placed across a greyscale muted sun, shining down onto the yacht Sirocco (it does look like the actual yacht). The yacht is sailing a calm sea. White on black gives the lyrics definition. They wrap themselves around the sides and base, parting just enough in the middle to encourage our eyes to track reflected sunlight up to the silhouetted boat.
Side 2: Track by track
Trusting you (Bill McDonough, Guy McDonough)
This song immediately sets a frantic, choppy pace with Reyne’s similarly choppy vocals requiring a familiar (to the previously initiated) bit of concentration if you want to catch all the lyrics. The sentiment revolves around a relationship from which trust has fled. But it doesn’t appear to be a romantic relationship. Maybe it was with management.
Errol (James Reyne, Guy McDonough)
Errol is based on a genuinely infectious pop bass run that gets straight into your head. This was a big hit for the band and I have fond memories of belting it out at dances and parties along with the rest of the off your face masses (wistful sigh). It is an expert paraphrasing of the great Errol Flynn’s bio. A song that not only makes you want to dance, but also know more.
Can I be sure (Simon Binks)
I think you could describe this as a bit of a lyrically sophisticated, musical plodder, of the dah de dah bass line variety. In a fairly analytical way, the lyric once again is questioning trust. My guess is that being in a highly successful band meant coming across all sorts of fakers and people so image conscious you would never be quite sure who was real. It is a worthy piece of reflection.
Easy on your own (Kerry Armstrong, Brad Robinson, Simon Binks)
The ringing guitar solos and a cute reggae break are features here. James’ voice invites you in by challenging your capacity to understand what he is singing, so you tend to concentrate on what is going on. This is not a bad thing. Actress Kerry Armstrong was partner to Brad Robinson, so writing lyrics about how much easier to be on your own was a surprise to me. Maybe the song is saying it is tough being partner to someone often on the road – and this could have referred to either of them.
Love boys (Bill McDonough)
Something a bit musically heavier. This song would have gone down well live. It is topically a pretty heavy song as well. I mean the characters are tattooed, bent, bash their women and heading for prison. I don’t know who the Love Boys were (are?), but they sure sound nasty. I only ever went to King’s Cross a few times. I am glad we never met.
Resort girls (Guy McDonough)
Here’s one that pricks up your ears as initially the lead guitar follows the vocal nicely and closely. However, it also has an air of desperation from the get go as women, young and older, head for resorts looking for love and finding something less.
This second Aussie Crawl album was a huge hit for the band. Sitting at the top of the charts for 6 weeks and only bested by John Lennon’s “Double Fantasy” for the year, it remains a keeper. Side 2 is no slacker, hosting one of the three single releases, “Errol”. The lyrics hold much more interest than your average pop/rock album. For this feature in particular, I rate it highly. Full of memories and just as fresh to hear again today. I still enjoy it.
Diary of a Retiree: Day 281
My Dad’s Legacy – Mary’s haiku
My Dad’s legacy
Love of words, delight in birds
Precious gift to me
While walking along the Goulburn River a couple of days ago, I realised I was getting a bit short of breath going up hills. I haven’t been doing much strenuous exercise in recent months and I think it is telling. So, I got on the bike for a 10k tester to see where I was at. I need to get the cardiovascular system pumping again! The legs felt heavy and I was puffing away on inclines that have never bothered me before. My conclusion is that walking is a wonderful form of exercise for keeping you active, the joints mobile and getting some fresh air into your lungs, but you most certainly need to get the heart rate up on a regular basis as well.
Getting back on the bike mid-winter around here is something of a challenge though. Even on this sunny afternoon, the chill factor on the downhill cruise was quite uncomfortable across my chest. I will need to pick my times and use the resistance trainer in between. Still, these are good options and I think I am in the right frame of mind for regular cycling again.
I also started a Quigong class a couple of months ago. This is an ancient form of Chinese martial art practiced in a fluid, slow motion, somewhat like Tai Chi. It is excellent for coordination, balance, mind / muscle control and range of motion. I am yet to remember the 64 sequential movements necessary to take myself to the most basic level of fluidity, but that will come in time.
There have been quite a few visitors lately. The most recent, a lovely visit from Lyn, an old school friend. This weekend brother Keir and nephew Caleb are arriving for some riding and bushwalking. It has been wonderful to see so many friends and family make the effort to come here. We really value and appreciate their stays. Interestingly, I don’t always know the people that come. Recently we had a visit from Mitch (who used to work for Mary) and his wife Jacqui. In their mid 20s, I had only briefly met them at their engagement party a while ago. What a delight to have such vital, intelligent, young visitors in the mix. They were great company and I really hope to see them again.
I love it when we have people of all ages come. Mary’s Melbourne book group is a case in point. 10 of them, half in their late 20s / early 30s, half in their 60s, are a highly entertaining bunch. I am lucky to be able to sit in when they meet at our place. Their birthday book club lunch meeting celebrating Darren’s 30th and Mary’s 60th was a real hoot. There was lots of laughter, perceptive book talk and conversations all over the place. I was sorry to see them go.
It is also great to see people arrive with their baggage and begin to leave some cares behind as they settle into the groove of just being here, no pressure to do anything, time to talk and walk, to look around, become part of the landscape and change down a cog, to begin to match the pace of the place. At least, this is the way I see it and I hope this is the way they find it to be.
(On the night of this photo, from this very microstage, it might not look possible, but it is true, true, true! The man above caused the mayhem below)
I come upon a fawning crowd
Bogan fresh and proud
Straight from the shower
And into the pub
Girls glistening with glitter
Post hot water scrub
Their stretch jeans too tight
Their muffin tops showing
Breasts fixed just right
Pancake face glowing
The boys in their utes
Polished for showing
All looking cute
With product hair woven
They come in their droves
From asbestos laced shedding
From acreage homes
Town houses with cladding
They gather in cliques
Or large social groups
The drinks go down nicely
The talk turns to hoots
And bold statements of fact
And alcohol hugs
The bravado act
As beer goes in chugs
The girls are a twitter
Who did what to whom?
They flit hither thither
Across the filling room
The singles are looking
For a match for the night
All out there hooking
Their catch to hold tight
The couples are clingy
Not risking detachment
While the bully boys prowl
Asking “What that meant?”
The lonely boys savour
Their chances tonight
And if they’re not lucky
There’s always a fight
We’re packed in the room
As the lights slowly fade
There’s noise in the gloom
It comes from the stage
A postage stamp corner
Two metres by three
Can it be enough
For a man such as he?
A God almighty roar
An explosive oration
James Reyne’s through the door
They know every word
For every single beat
They’re a seething horde
A mob on its feet
The mob moves as one
Rolling in great waves
And it sings as one
Waking cemeteries of graves
Glasses held aloft
Drinks slosh with abandon
Dancers mash and mosh
Bodies bounce and cannon
Reyne looks astonished
With worry in his eye
They won’t be admonished
They’re living the lie
So he charms them
And he works them
The favourites are all here
He sings every hit
Everyone holds dear
Delivers with great fervour
Stokes their every passion
They sway and rock and quiver
Out of their heads and thrashing
The pace increases
They’re here to get
Rock dreams fulfilled
He massages their egos
He caresses their zones
He tickles their fancies
He shakes their bones
He works them to ecstatic climax
As one collective lover
The building shakes
The room erupts
But it’s not enough
They cry loud, “More, more!”
But James is through the kitchen
Quickly out the door
To quit while you’re ahead
In Molesworth that’s for sure
Together, the mob bows its collective head
They pause in the afterglow
They know tonight went red
They know how to put on a show
Humankind must understand that we have crossed a retrograde developmental line when our use of technology is based on faith that it will work rather than a complete understanding of how and why it will work. SM
A poem for thine eyes to see
Words that speak of love for thee
A verse from where my head doth rest
Upon thy softly rising chest
A gentle tender plea
To bind our hearts eternally
To state our love is rich and rare
An intimacy that none can share
I’ll stay with you through eternal life
My friend my lover my eternal wife
I am jocose
In the most playful sense
My jovial disposition